Program/Institutions : Graduate Institute Geneva / IHEID & SOAS; MA Development Studies
Areas of Interest: Education in displaced populations, forced migration, humanitarian policy & aid
Undergraduate Institution: University of California, Los Angeles
Undergraduate GPA: 3.4 (low due to poor grades in my initial course of study. marked improvement in my grades once I changed majors.)
Undergraduate Major: History (3.8 GPA) , with a minor in Education (4.0 GPA)
Awards: Dean’s List Honors for 5 quarters
GRE: n/a for selected programs
Years Out of Undergrad (if applicable): 8 years
Years of Work Experience: 8 years, 6 of which are in international development
Describe Relevant Work Experience: 2 years working as project manager in South Asia for a social enterprise consultancy. Following my return to the US, spent 1 year working as an impact fellow for a social enterprise then worked for 2 years for an education nonprofit. Most recent position was 1 year as consultant the World Bank. Currently living in Europe, looking for work and studying French.
Languages: English - fluent, Spanish - intermediate, French - beginner
Strength of LOR: I have strong professional recs from past employers, including one in Bangladesh, but weak academic references. I did not remain in touch with any of my professors after graduating, and it's been almost a decade. IHEID in particular places a high weight on the academic reference, so I'm worried about this area of weakness.
Concerns: I'm primarily concerned about my academic profile - while my major GPA is high, my overall score is on the low end. This, plus my weaker academic reference, makes me concerned about my chances of getting in to IHEID, my top choice. I'm somewhat more confident about my chances of getting into SOAS. While I've had an impactful development career thus far, my positions have been more on the consultancy/strategic side, and I haven't had many opportunities to develop a strong quantitative or research background.
Any advice would be much appreciated!